Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Joe Strummer: "The Future Is Unwritten"

I heard it on the radio announcing the death of punk hero Joe Strummer. It was 2002 and three days before Christmas. I was shocked as he was a young 50 year old and I was enthusiastic about his band the Mescaleros. I liked their music and had decided to go see them live but that dream was cut short with the passing of Joe. He will never be forgotten from punk hero to his brilliant brand of world music with the Mescaleros his memory lives on with the charity Strummerville http://www.strummerville.com.

I also thought Joe was a terrific song writer with his social and political leaning lyrics. Socialite or Socialist it does not matter I liked the songs that had a political theme to them.

There is a few websites dedicated to the memory of him http://www.joestrummer.org and Strummer News are two I came across.

Also check out the documentary "The Future Is Unwritten"

And what more can I say? Joe had the charisma to appeal to the ordinary man on the street or on the dole was immense. Check out Johnny Cash & Joe Strummer - Redemption Song I also like probably his best album with his band Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Global A Go-Go pure world music slant there is everything here from Reggae to even Celtic sounds. Check out the album.

Joe also never sold out or forgot his punk and rock'n'roll roots his band covered hits by The Clash from London Calling to Rock The Casbah

Let us not forget Joe Strummer and check out the movie http://www.joestrummerthemovie.com

Joe Strummer RIP: John Graham Mellor (21 August 1952 – 22 December 2002.)


Sunday, 29 August 2010

Alex Salmond Exclusive in the Express

Checking the newspapers today to find an exclusive by Alex Salmond in the Scottish Sunday Express. And he rightly concedes that the Referendum Bill is “likely” to be defeated at Holyrood.

Well I cannot blame him for wanting to build for the Scottish elections May 2011. All the SNP need to do now is anticipate public anger at the Opposition for preventing the people a say in their constitutional future. Coupled with the arguments that an independent Scotland could reduce its share of the UK debt without the need for swingeing cuts, the SNP should be able to strike a chord with the Scottish people and have a second term in office.

The First Minister stands by his plans to press ahead with the controversial Referendum Bill next month, with a possible polling date of March 31 next year, even though Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats plan to vote it down.

But he told the Sunday Express: “I’ve always said that if the other parties don’t pass the bill – and that doesn’t look likely now, does it? – the people will have their say as to whether they want that opportunity in the election next year.
“People can take the decision to force the issue.

In view of the above I feel it necessary to say that if you want independence and prevent the hardship from the UK cuts then you have to vote SNP. This applies to everyone in the independence left also.

We must fight back at the lack of democracy that comes from the Unionist parties. The only way is to defeat them at the ballot box next May. Clearly the Unionists are running scared of an Independence Referendum and the SNP can only point out the reality of the situation. The only matter in hand is for the SNP to press ahead next month with the Referendum Bill and see what happens or what is inevitable.

I am disappointed but not with my party the SNP, but with the intransigence of the Unionists when faced with the progressive thinking and actions of the minority SNP Government.

A second term in Government would be good for the SNP and Scotland.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Rebel With a Cause

I recently ordered a couple of T-shirts from the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement (SRSM) and received them on Tuesday. Also pictured below is an SRSM keyring. I have been wearing the shirts in Kirkcaldy during the week. It is quite a good feeling to be a rebel and wear such shirts in Gordon Brown's constituency.

What makes the Kirkcaldy folk vote Labour is beyond me. However I note a sense of discontent among the folks, but they can only blame themselves for voting Labour and getting a Tory led government. Well the Lib Dems are very much the junior partner in Westminster scene.

Anyway the T-shirts cost me £5 each with 50p for P&P and the keyring was only a £1.00.

The T-shirts can be got from the SRSM why not join the SRSM forum. Or you can visit the SRSM shop on their website.
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Monday, 23 August 2010

Chasing up Job Centre Plus

After I got out of bed this morning I had a coffee and checked my emails and the news, or rather Twitter where I follow BBC Scotland and STV. Actually STV followed me on Twitter first but I cannot think why?

I then phoned Kirkcaldy Job Centre Plus who could not give me a number for Argyle House in Edinburgh. So I do my own searching on the Internet. The number I phoned was not recognised for Argyle House. Eventually after phoning a different number I was given the Job Centre Plus number that deals with Fife.

Well I was enquiring that my questionnaire form had successfully reached it's destination. I was told it had not. Lost in the post? Would it mean I have to fill out another form to see if I have to go for a medical to determine whether I am fit for work? I was told they would phone me back within three hours.

Indeed they phoned back but within the hour to say they had received my questionnaire form on the 17th August and that they wanted to know my doctor's contact details. I thought I wrote that information on the form? Never mind I was able to give the name and exact address of my doctor. The woman was unable to tell me how long they would take to process the form and when or if I have to attend a medical.

The whole process is stressing the sick and disabled people, this abolishing Incapacity Benefit and change to Employment Support Allowance. If you fail the medical you are put on Job Seekers Allowance and receive very little money as you are made available for work. Two thirds of incapacity claimants fail the medical and must look for work. I have not worked since 1996.

Anyway I will keep readers of The Rebel Scot updated about how I get on and what the medical entails. It was New Labour that brought forward the legislation in a Welfare Bill that Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell published a white paper on UK-wide welfare reform away back in December 2008. It meant that most people would be taken off Incapacity and have to look for work.

The medicals will be carried out by Atos Healthcare which this private company also uses the trading name Atos Origin.

And now with the ConDem coalition wanting to cut the welfare costs to the government while also spending billions on Trident nuclear missiles the future for us sick or disabled looks bleak.

Yours for Scotland

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The need for fair government

Ordered a another couple of T-shirts from SRSM today. The picture above is of me wearing a Scotland shirt I bought in Dundee on Wednesday. Unlike most unionists I believe if you are going to campaign as an Internationalist you must always firstly be willing to stand up for Scotland.

On another subject I bought four cans of cider last week at a £1.00 each. It was 5.3% strength so I understand why the SNP is concerned about the availability in shops corner and supermarkets of cut price strong booze. If we can improve the health of the nation while cutting down on crime then legislation to curb Scotland's drinking culture is required.

Another concern of mine is the number of money lenders selling pay day loans on the net and elsewhere. The huge interest these unscrupulous companies are charging is daylight robbery. I hope Westminster does something about the money lenders they would never be tolerated under a socialist government.

Which leads me onto the topic of socialism in an Independent Scotland. If the people hopefully one day want it then fine but I will still campaign for it before and after independence. Socialism is more likely to happen in a Scottish Republic which I am hoping we get after independence. The Scottish people are fair and adapt well being represented by a social democratic type government like the SNP. A step forward would be a state that is socialist but not authoritarian. In the meantime I support the campaign by some for a Scottish Workers Republic as envisaged by Red Clydesider John MacLean in Scottish history.

Anyway make sure you are registered to vote by the May 2011 Scottish elections and give your vote to the SNP.

Yours for Scotland
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Monday, 16 August 2010

From welfare to job seekers for many

Being on long term Disability I never like getting mail from the DWP. The UK government over the years are always changing the Benefits system making it more complex and difficult to understand and implement properly. My recent post included a questionnaire form to asses if I am fit for work. Well they are having a laugh I haven't been fit for work since 1996. The London government want to scrap Incapacity Benefit putting sick and disabled people on Employment Support Allowance by October this year. Those who fail the medical test will have to apply for job seekers allowance. If I am called in for a medical it will be carried out by private firm Atos Healthcare.

However sick and disabled people are being 'pressurised to return to work' according to Citizens Advice Scotland.

Citizens Advice Scotland is calling for an independent review of the new Employment and Support Allowance system. Employment Support Allowance (ESA) was introduced 18 months ago to replace incapacity benefit. This was the result of New Labour's Welfare Bill in 2007.

But its new medical assessment has led to allegations by Citizens Advice Scotland that it targets the most vulnerable. A BBC Scotland investigation found that under ESA, more than two thirds of claimants are being found fit to work, almost 20% more than the government had planned.

It is now the most commonly appealed benefit, with 8,000 tribunals heard every month across the UK - and 40% of decisions are being reversed. So far, only those claiming after 2008 have undergone the medical, but longer-term claimants are due to be transferred to ESA in October.

Citizens Advice Scotland said that the system was unfit for purpose and called for an urgent review. ESA's controversial medical assessment is based on a points system. Those scoring 15 or more are entitled to extra money, and support back into employment.Those scoring less than 15 have to apply for jobseekers allowance, or find work.

I will keep readers updated as to how I get on and if or when I am pulled in for a medical.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Scottish Labour opportunist over minimum pricing

I got up very early this morning to check my emails and the news. Recently I joined Twitter and I have found it to be useful for following the Scottish news. If you are on Twitter you can follow me @ http://twitter.com/republicansoc Anyway drinking plenty coffee and checking out sites such as Newsnet Scotland where I can get news that is more balanced and not blatant unionist propaganda like the Scotsman is. I read the Scots Independent on the train yesterday and my journey seemed not so long or boring.

I also bought some cans of beer at the supermarket at a very affordable price. Then this morning when checking the SNP website for news I noticed that the SNP have welcomed reports that the Labour coalition partners in the Welsh Assembly Government are seeking devolution of licensing powers to Wales in order to introduce a minimum price for alcohol. Seemingly the Welsh Assembly Government intends to make a formal approach to the UK government for the devolution of powers in relation to alcohol licensing. And it is the case that the coalition is united in Wales on introducing minimum pricing on Alcohol. The SNP have said that "The Welsh Assembly Government joins a chorus of expert voices in health, public order and the licensed trade who believe that the selling of alcohol at rock-bottom prices is one of the biggest problems facing our society and that we have to take action to stop it now." Well this is in sharp contrast to Scottish Labour who have opposed the SNP initiative on alcohol pricing and put party politics above health.

SNP MSP Michael Matheson, a member of the Scottish Parliament's Health Committee has said that "the SNP's minimum pricing plan will save lives, cut crime and help re-balance Scotland’s damaging relationship with alcohol, and I call again for Scots politicians of all parties to stop playing politics with the nation's health and get behind these proposals."

And you can read this in full on the SNP website if you click here.

So far so good apart from the fact that Labour in Scotland seem determined to oppose minimum pricing. My knowledge on the Alcohol Bill is limited I have not read it but what I think is the case is that minimum pricing will affect the cost of a unit of alcohol. To me a unit measurement of alcohol is equivalent to half a pint of beer. And if minimum pricing is the best way to tackle Scotland's alcohol abuse then so be it. I trust the Scottish Government know what they are doing so I am slowly accepting the fact that the Alcohol Bill is in everbody's interests in Scotland, for it to get passed.

OK that is enough on my diary today so until I post again.

Yours For Scotland

Thursday, 12 August 2010

The Left and National Liberation

After the recent censorship preventing me from posting on the Socialist Unity website I will happily put forward my arguments for independence and a Workers Republic here.

Firstly the comments on the Socialist Unity website were appalling. These so-called socialists of the Brit left comment about dividing the working class in Britain because we support the right to Self-Determination and National Liberation. However I would be inclined to agree with SRSM in which it is stated on their website:

That there is "no British nation and therefore no British working-class. Any unity between the national components of these islands has been forced from the top down, and does not represent unity in the internationalist sense. Until the achievement of National Independence, without which there can be neither Republic nor Socialism, the chief work of the SRSM shall be to engage in the struggle for National Self-Determination."

The conditions and our national culture are different in Scotland although we share a love of fish and chips with our English working class comrades but little else.

I am sure comrades in the Scottish Socialist Party doubt the existence of a viable British working class? However that does not stop comments being post on the SU site like:

"It could have been different- the current that became the SSP could have used the relative strength of the socialist left in Scotland to help build an internally democratic british wide socialist party. They choose instead to jump on the SNP bandwagon and abandon socialist politics and principles"

The above comment is nonsense the strength of the SSP was through winning votes from the SNP and Greens which they subsequently lost by 2007. And still today the SNP is a target of much criticism from the SSP. However this is a failure of the SSP to recognise the need for all pro-independence parties to show a united front under one banner going even beyond the Scottish Independence Convention in this critical stage of Scottish history. Also wrong about the above comments to claim the SSP have abandoned socialist politics and principles. Take a look at their website and see the number of working class campaigns they are involved with. Independence and Republicanism has been relegated to near the bottom of the page. But the SSP fail to realise as a seemingly pro-independence party that independence and republicanism should be their main feature on their website.

Other comments on the SU site complained about the SNP being pro-capitalist or anti-working class. Yet these Brit socialists ignore the fact that the SNP is selling a fair and social democratic programme to voters in Scotland. Further more the liberation for the Scottish working class is dependant on complete independence from the neo liberal imperialist British state as a first step to a Republic and the chance to struggle towards a Workers Republic in Scotland.

A more sensible contribution was:

"An independent Scotland would give the Scottish people the sovereign right to determine what type of economic policies would be their preference through their democratic will. It certainly wont be anything as right wing neo-liberal as the preference in England."

The above is true and the Scottish people would vote in the New Scotland for parties who deliver a social democratic or socialist programme. It would not be a Workers Republic or genuine National Liberation but it would allow a start to get rid of the English Brit Imperialist yolk. The SRSM correctly mention genuine National Liberation on their website:

National Liberation

"We believe the struggles for National Liberation and Socialism to be inseparable, that is that one is not possible without the other. The question of National Liberation is not merely about the ending of British political rule in Scotland but about the ending of all economic, political and cultural Imperialism in Scotland. The National Liberation struggle will not be won until the workers of Scotland exercise complete control over the material resources, economy and political administration of Scotland."

"This brings to the fore competing class issues in Scottish society. The interests of the Capitalist class are tied to and subservient to the interests of Imperialism. They will always seek to preserve their own position and therefore constantly undermine the struggle for genuine National Liberation."

"The National Liberation struggle has to be fought by those whose interests are not tied to Imperialism. That is it has to come from the majority of the Scottish people – the working class. It is about the complete transfer of the wealth and resources of Scotland into the hands of those who use these resources to create the wealth. It is, in short, the building of a Socialist society; a Scottish Workers’ Republic, and it must be the working class that leads the struggle for National Liberation. Such a demand meets Scotland’s aspirations as a nation with the workers aspirations as a class."

And the struggle at present is in it's early stages. Scots of all classes need to be involved in the struggle for Democracy something that is very infantile under the present Devolution set up. We need to take all classes with us on the road to independence. However after independence the important struggle takes place for a Republic which could be by being offered a referendum on the issue. I am confident the Scottish people will prefer a republic when they get a real taste of freedom. That sort of freedom I have felt when visiting the Irish Free State or Dublin. Yet Eire and it's people are very much under the thumb of the European Community.

The struggle of our class should be tied to the struggle for National Liberation. But first we must support the SNP while building the Independence Movement. Already changes are taking place in Scotland. Since Devolution and the 2007 victory result for the SNP to form the minority Government, the self confidence of many Scots has grown. Marches for independence have been previously held in the capital Edinburgh.
A new march is planned by March for your future a group dedicated to raising awareness and support for the independence of Scotland, in April 2011 they will be marching through the streets of Edinburgh to do just this.

Their website writes

"The aim of March for your future is to promote and progress the independence of Scotland through complete devolution from the United Kingdom. With the end goal of complete independence for the nation of Scotland."

There exists some interesting times from now until the 2011 May Scottish elections. In the meantime a unified pro-independence movement will be required to organise and plan for the future. How soon we get independence will be determined by the Scottish people. The direction will be shown by the SNP and Independence Movement.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Brief Thoughts on Scottish Independence

Brief Thoughts on Scottish Independence Aug 2010

By Steve Arnott. Steve is the Editorial Co-ordinator of Democratic Green Socialist

1. The lessons of history are hard learned and hard earned. In some cases they are burned into the soul. For over two generations now – the biggest part of an adult lifetime – the political landscape of Scotland has been shaped, not by the free will of its own people, but the outlook, attitudes, media and voting patterns of the UK state as dominated and defined by London and the South of England; an area which has historically soaked up the wealth of Empire and post – consensus neo-liberalism like a sponge, and whose political ideologues wasted a generation of young people, and billions of barrels of valuable North Sea oil, in smashing public ownership and manufacturing industry, driving down wages and expectations using mass unemployment as a weapon, and creating a speculation and consumption driven, debt fuelled economy.

2. Voting patterns based on a post war period of rising prosperity in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and the division between unionist Presbyterianism and a catholic minority supported Labour party that allowed significant numbers of Tory MPs to be elected in Scotland have gone – permanently, thank goodness, though some unpleasant cultural and political remnants remain. For the last 4 decades Scotland has voted in huge numbers for social democratic parties either of the unionist (Labour) or independence (SNP) types. In an era of capitalist counter reform and retrenchment Scottish people have voted for these parties in the belief or hope that they would protect themselves from the ravages of Thatcherism and her ideological successors. What they got instead was right wing Tory government from 1979-1997 and from 2010 the current Con Dem coalition carrying out nothing less than an all out ideological assault against the state and the public sector. Sandwiched in-between, the Blair-Brown Government of New Labour had so adjusted itself to the memes of middle England and worship of the market that it became in effect, capitalism’s second eleven. In a final act of political bankruptcy in the crisis of 2007-2009 it mortgaged the future services and jobs of working class families throughout the UK to save British capitalism.

3. The granting of a Scottish Parliament with limited devolved powers in 1999 was both a step forward for democracy and a concession on behalf of unionism and the ruling class who mistakenly thought it would put independence on the back burner for a generation. But far from acting as a safety valve for the democratic and social democratic aspirations of the Scottish people, the existence of a Scottish Government – even in ‘wee pretendy Parliament’ form – has shifted the axis of debate to one between independence and a Scottish Parliament with enhanced powers including and up to full fiscal autonomy in what would effectively become a federal UK.

4. The barbarians with Eton accents are once again at the gate, however. Plans to reduce the structural deficit caused by New Labour’s bailout of the banks and obsession with PPP/PFI are partly ideologically driven but no less real. Along with working class people and ordinary families throughout the rest of the UK, Scots face a decimation of public services, capital projects and jobs that will scar this country for a generation. And this in a country with just one Tory MP and where less than 1 in 10 of the populace voted Tory. Of course, a similar proportion voted Lib-Dem, blissfully unaware that they were, in effect, voting for a Tory government. ‘No mandate’ and ‘democratic deficit’ are, in this context, understated terms.

5. A mass popular campaign against the cuts is necessary – but we also have to learn the painful lesson of history. Any notion of a genuine socialist labour government at a UK level is surely a pipe dream at the present time, as is the idea of the unions or union leaders – with a few honourable exceptions – breaking with Labour and creating a new mass working class party. Even the election of a left leaning Labour government would not be a guarantee against the election of a future Tory government further down the line. The conclusion is simple – the only way now for the majority of Scots to get the stable left of centre social democratic government they consistently vote for is through independence.

6. Independence in the modern era takes the form therefore of a principled democratic demand rather than being driven by notions of national exceptionalism.

7. Socialists will want to move an independent Scotland beyond the mixed economy social democratic model that Scotland will inevitably vote for initially, given its freedom. We will want see out major industries and financial institutions taken into democratic public ownership. We will want to see huge public investment in developing a renewables economy and building social housing. We will want to re-establish a genuine comprehensive National Health Service and a Higher education service free at the point of need. We will want to create an irreversible shift in wealth and power in favour of the millions rather than the millionaires. But the point is this: on the first day of an independent capitalist Scotland the struggle for socialism in Scotland begins anew with renewed and increased vigour, with the intellectual obstacles of unionism and Westminster politics removed, and the real possibility of meaningful mass realignment in Scottish politics.

8. Consequently, for the left, independence is not only the correct and principled democratic demand, but the best strategic way to progress its own political agenda.

9. Some on the left should stop obsessing and worrying over problems that are largely their own mental creation with no basis in reality, in particular, that to support independence unconditionally without framing it in terms of an ‘independent socialist Scotland’ or whatever the current shibboleth is, is to run the danger of sowing ‘illusions’ in a capitalist independent Scotland, or that the SNP can solve all the problems facing the working class. Where is the evidence that such illusions exist? Perhaps the Scottish working class is a little more pragmatic than some of its would be ‘vanguard’ imagines.

10. Similiarly, sections of the left should stop echoing the New Labour/unionist mantra that, in this or that poll, only 25% or 33% of Scots support independence, therefore the conclusion should be drawn that people aren’t really interested, and that independence is somehow ‘not a priority’, or ‘secondary’ to class questions, as if the class questions themselves have not been fundamentally decided by the ‘national question’ of the existence of the British state over the last 40 years! Such arguments are self-defeating. No socialist would seriously argue that because socialists aren’t doing well in the polls right now we should conclude that people don’t want or need socialism. We would rightly point out the role of the media and all the political apparatus of state in normalising capitalism and skewing the political debate to the right, and argue that socialists have to sometimes swim against the tide for what they believe in. Instead of making such banal non-points, socialists have a duty to point to the continued domination of Scottish politics by a unionist Westminster agenda and in particular the shameful role of the opportunist Labour party in Scotland and its nepotistic relationship with an SNP/independence hating media, particularly the mass circulation Daily Record. Even if a multi-option referendum were held tomorrow, fiscal autonomy would win with independence second, and the status quo third. This hardly indicates a lack of desire for change, and in conditions of narrative
and media fairness, or conditions of desperation as the Con-Dem cuts begin to
bite, or both, an independence referendum could certainly be won.

11. Independence is not principally a strategic or tactical question, though there may be good strategic or tactical arguments for it. It is in itself a ‘good’ that progressives should fight for. Scotland is a nation, albeit one whose identity has been consciously merged/submerged into a British identity by the British ruling class over hundreds of years. It has a right, even a duty, as a modern nation to run and be responsible for its own affairs as it sees fit.

12. A huge welcome by product and side benefit of independence would be the acceleration of the development of socialist ideas in Scotland.

13. A huge welcome by product and side benefit of Scottish independence internationally would be the break up of the British state.

14. So, what are we waiting for? Come all ye at hame wi’ freedom.

My Response to “Brief Thoughts on Scottish Independence Aug 2010”

August 11, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Good article Steve yes without independence we cannot put right the democratic deficit and so be ruled by neo liberal government that Scots never voted for. Scotland is heavily dependant on public services so the cuts will hurt and damage the economy. The only answer is for the Scottish people to recognise the need for change. You see under the union history repeats itself and now we have the Con-Dems which Scots did not vote for.

A mass fight back against the cuts should be tied to the fight for Scottish independence. An independent Scotland with a social democratic government would be ideal for socialists to campaign for a republic and struggle for a Socialist Republic. In order for this to happen Scottish independence has to be top of the political agenda of the Scottish left. The DGS are putting forward the correct analyse and arguments in favour of independence It just require some action from the pro-independence parties and instead of standing candidates against the SNP they should be entering talks with them, about not standing candidates in the Scottish election next year, and a united front against cuts, how to work together against the unionists and unionist media and presenting the Scottish people a real alternative. And the campaigning for a referendum with a Yes vote which will require being practicle, and a united front between both the Nationalists and the Scottish left. The trust would have to be built and this would require some real effort. After all the pro-independence parties are linked with the Scottish Independence Convention.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Need for responsible drinking

The Scottish government has pledged to consider "any workable alternatives" to a minimum price for a unit of alcohol.

The move came after an all-party meeting at Holyrood aimed at tackling Scotland's drink problem. That is what the bbc Scotland website said with the headline Scottish parties gather for alcohol summit.

And so minimum unit pricing may not win the day for the Scottish Government. Perhaps by the time the Alcohol (Scotland) Bill passes through the Scots Parliament we will have to settle for a floor price. This is what the opposition parties want and for Holyrood to work with the UK government.

What is clear there needs to be an end to the culture of drinking cheap booze such as strong drink like some ciders being on sale in the shops and supermarkets. Many of us in Scotland have an unhealthy relationship with drink. I know from experience that if the cost of alcoholic drink goes up then I will buy less. And so there is a link between consumption and price of that I am convinced. However I mainly buy lower strength beers in supermarkets because it suits my budget and you don't get drunk on it so easily. But like many folk on a budget I drink at home because of the cost of a night out at the pub. Perhaps I am no different to others and we all need to re educate ourselves about alcoholic drink in Scotland. After all it should be easier at home to reduce consumption of drink and remain a moderate drinker.


Sunday, 8 August 2010

Republican Socialist and in the SNP

On April this year I rejoined the Scottish National Party (SNP) after a number of years in the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP)and Solidarity Scotland's Socialist Movement. Nothing has changed I still remain a republican socialist since the mid 1980s.

The SNP is not a republican party but is Scotland's leading party of Independence. The SNP of course does have republicans, republican socialists within it. In view of this I can enjoy meeting Left Nationalists like myself in the party or share the same goal of Scottish Freedom with the more right wing elements in the party. However I would say it is a party at ease with itself and everyone is friendly. Most in the party are left of centre which makes radical Scottish Republican Socialists such as me stand out.

But what of the Scottish Left and how do we define it? Well it is not just members of the SSP or Solidarity. Members of the Scottish Trade Unions should be included. Then they are various parties such as the Communist Party of Scotland and individuals in the Democratic Left that make up the Scottish Left. Also there is the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement (SRSM) and their brand of progressive Left wing Nationalism and activism.

With this in mind the Scottish Left should be a strong voice in Scottish politics. However there are much disunity and an element of sectarianism which is apparent. I wonder if I should be surprised by this but I am not when we are all up against an authoritarian British state and their Unionist media.

So what is the answer? I feel the answer lies in republican socialist beliefs and practical steps towards unity. There should be more republican socialist Conventions in the future and less attacks on the SNP with it's social democratic outlook.

The SNP have an important role to play in Scottish society. That is convincing Scots of the merits and positives of Scottish Independence. And implementing policies as best they can while remaining for time being the minority administration in the Scottish Government.

In view of this all is not well. The public services face cuts which have been delayed in large part for the moment. This means a clear choice for voters come the Scottish elections. Vote for a party that stands up for Scotland and the difficult times that lie ahead. We need to convince the public that a vote for Labour in Scotland is a wasted vote. We end up with right wing Westminster dictates and it happened again in history that we get Tory rule of sorts while being tied to the union.

Only by voting SNP as the largest most effective pro-Independence party can we hope for change within the limits of constitutional nationalism and what it has to offer. In other words Nats working progressively in parliamentary politics. Elections show that the SSP and Solidarity are going nowhere. Which is a pity because they are supposed to be pro-independence parties despite having the Brit Left hanging on their coat tails.

It never made sense to me having different pro-independence parties standing candidates against each other. What we need is for their members to vote SNP in seats where the Nats can win. What is missing is practical unity amongst those who clearly are aligned with the Scottish Independence Convention and therefore naturally support an Independence Referendum. Which I think the SNP proposals in the Referendum Bill will be put to the test in March 2011.

Anyway I am happy now to be back in Scotland's most effective party in the campaign for Independence and standing up for Scottish interests.

As I said at the beginning I have not changed my politics it is republican socialist and I have entered a party such as the SNP that can make Independence possible. Then only we can begin a real effective struggle for our beloved Scottish Socialist Republic.

Yours for Scotland

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Thoughts on Rabbie Burns

Think I will write here about my interest today. Rabbie Burns is Scotland's greatest poet and I was born where he spent his final days that being Dumfries. I should know how long he lived and worked in Dumfries as I have books on him that I seldom get around to reading.

A letter has been discovered that shed's light on his last days and click here for bbc report.

When I go back to Dumfries for a visit I like to see his cottage there which you can walk around and as if you were in a museum. However Burns Cottage, the first home of Robert Burns is located in Alloway, South Ayrshire, Scotland. It was built by his father, William Burness in 1757. Burns, Scotland's national poet, was born there on 25 January 1759. It is a simple two-roomed clay and thatch cottage and is now a museum dedicated to him. It has been fully restored and is part of the Burns National Heritage Park.

Well I know Alloway is Burns Country but so is Dumfries as far as I and other Doonhamers are concerned.

Indeed like I said Dumfries is where I was born and lived there until 16 years of age. Even though Burns wrote some fine poetry there I prefer to read poetry rather than try to write it.

My favourite pastime nowadays is to write and post on the Internet. With the Internet you can research Burns online, and if like me cannot write poetry then try reading it and what better than Scotland's National Bard.

OK before I finish writing here about Burns I have included here the link for Burns Heritage Park if you get a chance to visit that part of Scotland. http://www.burnsheritagepark.com is the link.

Anyway I will try writing about what interests me as my personal diary on this weblog. Should be interesting.


Monday, 2 August 2010

Why I prefer the Internet

I don't buy newspapers and have not since I have had the Internet for a few years. Anyway the Scottish media is biased against the present SNP minority Scottish Government. In other words newspapers like the Scotsman and Herald do not take Independence seriously enough.

So what do we do? Well there are plenty of interesting weblogs. You could also do no wrong by checking out the Newsnet website. As for the weblogs I have a list of recommended ones on my Scottish Republic weblog.

Furthermore as well as endless Scottish websites on the Internet I find the Forums a good source of information and opinions on news and Independence. There is Our Scotland. and the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement have their own web forum. I believe there are some choice of Scottish forums on the web. With most forums you can find out where the latest Scottish event is going to be held and organising it, so forums like social networking sites such as Facebook can be good ways to communicate also about the latest event and where to find it, time date venue, organisation etc...

Another interest I have is for Yahoo groups (also google groups exist) as a source of information or news and views. However the Yahoo groups vary somewhat, some are more interesting than others with a wee bit more debate included on a few.

Indeed I have got say that I use the Internet to not only debate but learn and communicate with others who usually have similar opinions to mine.

And finally I subscribe to the newsletter of Mediawatch at Mediawatch2010@aol.com prepared by SNP activists in the west of Scotland. I post copies of these to Forum for Scottish Democracy, on Yahoo groups. So click to join anyone of my Yahoo groups which are on my weblogs to click on.

Well that is my diary of thoughts today folks not much interesting in today's news.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Republican Socialism and the Class Struggle

In April this year I joined the Scottish National Party in order to argue the case for Independence without the distraction of the British left prevalent in Solidarity and the Scottish Socialist Party. Yet Solidarity and the SSP are supposed to be pro-independence parties. Both are members of the Scottish Independence Convention. The purpose of the Scottish Independence Convention or SIC is to bring parties, organisations and individuals together to work for the common aim of Independence. However I wish the SIC success in their aim but only time will tell. What I do hope for is for an Independence Referendum that we can win for Scotland's velvet revolution of sorts. Yet consider Solidarity and the SSP rarely mention Independence on their websites and nothing on the need for an Independence Referendum. The SSP website is a clutter to say the least.

On the SNP website just click on Independence and Independence White Paper published where there is a link. Next click on Choosing Scotland's Future and there it is about the Independence Referendum proposed in the White Paper part of the National Conversation which the SNP used for feedback from the public. On this page is the National Referendum which is proposed and as pointed out here as the next step. The Scottish Government intends to bring forward the Referendum Bill early in 2010. The Scottish Parliament will be invited to pass the legislation.

Anyway the SNP have proposed an Independence Referendum albeit likely to be a multi-option one. The Unionists disagree in holding an Independence Referendum yet opinion polls show great support in Scotland for a Referendum on Scotland's Constitutional future. With this in mind I have always argued for public pressure to assist the present Scottish Government in their wishes. I would argue that parties and both political and non- political organisations should lead the way and lets take to the streets.

On a brighter note we have the Scottish Independence Convention, SNP White Paper and a new group of non-political individuals calling themselves March For Your Future (MFYF) a group dedicated to raising awareness about the need for Independence and a march through Edinburgh to be organised for April 2011. In view of this I believe a sea of change will grip Scotland and demand for change will come in it's own time. Already there is a need that is recognised that Scotland needs a Parliament with full fiscal powers.

And this leads me onto what I want for Scotland. Firstly a Republic through Independence and ditching the monarchy and crown powers the bad elements of the British state. However I am a Republican Socialist and that is part of my struggle in the mix when campaigning for Independence. We need to address what is bad in capitalism and build a fair democratic free society. A genuine and true Scottish Workers Republic. And that must be built through class struggle and public pressure from below. We cannot get a Workers Republic by parliamentary means.

So what is required for socialism? Well we need Conventions of Republican Socialists to meet and organise for class struggle. I understand the SSP have had an Republican Socialist Convention held in November 2009. This could be argued to be a healthy development. But it is required that such events go beyond organising by one group of party individuals. There is also the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement to consider and their experience on understanding the nature of the British left. Such Conventions require a united voice from Republican Socialists in the Scottish Left or nationalist left in the SNP. We need to see more Conventions that lead to Scottish Republican unity and to begin to take the campaign to parties, organisations and for us to hit the streets. In short we need to educate those in both politics and the public the merits and advantages of Republican Socialism and a Workers Republic built after Scottish Independence.

Scotland's class struggle in history is both nationalist and socialist as recognised in a good article by John McAllion of the SSP. Correctly the break up of the British state will provide a bigger platform for Republican socialists to agitate and educate workers and the poor that the Workers Republic is in every body's interest.

Scottish Water to remain publicly-owned

The Scottish Government has ruled out changing the status of Scottish Water. A Scottish Government spokesperson has said "that domestic water charges in Scotland were below the average of those in the privatised system in England and Wales." Well this is good who would want Scottish Water to be privatised? Privatisation of Scottish Water would likely lead to the introduction of water meters. A water meter is a device used to measure the volume of water usage. We can't have Water companies reaping in profit while families cut back on water usage. I hope this never happens in Scotland and Scottish Water remains a public utility. Scottish Water is performing well as a publicly-owned corporation in Scotland, and ministers have consistently said that there are no plans to change that. With this Scottish Government the cost of water can be kept down and cost less than England or Wales.

This weblog is Scottish Rebel

Anyone who has visited this site before will have noticed that I have changed the name to the Scottish Rebel. I am making changes to discuss more politics and I intend to post here more frequently. The design of the Blog has changed also to reflect my republican socialist beliefs. In April this year I joined the SNP for the second time in my life. I feel they are the only party that can deliver Independence most likely by way of an Independence Referendum. We are living in interesting times with a growth in Scottish culture since devolution. Everyone except the biased Scottish media seems to understand that Independence is a real possibility in our lifetime. What is certain is already there is more support for giving the Scottish Parliament more powers. Giving Holyrood full tax raising powers would better prepare us for Independence.

While I am writing here I will remind you I have joined Twitter as republicansoc. Indeed I am on a few sites from myspace to bebo to facebook. On these sites I am spreading the message of Independence and Republican Socialism. If you check my profile I post to four blogs. My most read webblog is probably Scottish Republic but I intend to post here more often and it will be different. Here I will write my views and opinions on a regular basis. Indeed a diary of my thoughts as I write about news and views. Scottish Rebel is my website to discuss both politics Scottish culture and my thinking in general not always political but mostly I prefer to write about politics. I like to write as if I am talking to you in my living room. Scottish Rebel is very much about me and my opinions so It is a we bit different to the format of Scottish Republic weblog but will be similar except I will spend more time writing my opinions on life and politics. Anyway I am off for a coffee so enough of writing on this post perhaps this can be my daily diary? I hope so we will have to wait and see.

New SNP Supporters Group

I have started a new SNP supporters Group which is for quite simply supporters and members of the Scottish National Party. I discovered there was a need for one in Yahoo Groups and already I have six members who have joined. Here we can debate the merits of Independence and keep up to date with events. Membership of the group is open only to those that support Independence and the SNP.

Click here to join